Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Luna's Traveling Bag

My illness is almost gone. The only symptom I have left is a terrible nagging cough that hurts my chest. I was able to go into work yesterday. Of course, I forgot to bring my cough drops and had a major coughing fit before first period was even halfway over, but I made it through the day. I was actually subbing for my FIL, and I know where he keeps his supply of reward Blow Pops. Those worked pretty well as substitute cough drops, so I was okay for the rest of the day.

I have a project to post as well! I was going to save this post for after this object arrived at its destination, but the end of the month is coming up quickly and don't want to wait too long. I'm worried about the status of the swap package this project is a part of. It should be at its destination by now. I hope nothing bad happened to it, because it cost an arm and a leg to mail. Seriously. An arm and a leg. That would be just my luck - for it to have completely disappeared along the way somewhere.

Pattern: Ilene Bag by Hannah Ingalls
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton Ease in Gray and Light Blue
Mods: I added 5 extra reps of the mesh pattern into the body of the bag, for length. Because I altered this, I had to alter the handle set-up row as well, knitting 22 stitches at the beginning instead of 10.

This is the first market bag I have made and I'm pretty darn happy with it. It's a decent size, it stretches out nicely without looking like it's about the break apart, and it was all done in one piece. I love projects with no seaming!

This was very easy to make. The only tough part was picking up the stitches around the bottom of the bag. I had to be careful to space them out perfectly, so the bottom of the bag looked even and not all bunchy. I'm getting a lot better at picking up stitches though - I don't really get nervous when I see a pattern that requires it anymore. I'm pretty sure that this is my first project requiring me to pick up such a large number of stitches. It came out well!

Those are Ravenclaw pins embellishing the bag. This package went out to a Ravenclaw, hence the name "Luna's Traveling Bag." The theme of the swap was the Hogwarts Express, and I could picture Luna carrying a bag like this on board, packed full of stuff to do. I hope that swap package is okay! I will be seriously bummed if this package is lost.

I have another project to post later on. I have to take pictures of it first. Perhaps I'll get to it later today. This illness has put me behind in everything!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Angry Cat

I have been so sick this week. I've missed a ton of work because I don't have my yelling voice. I can't sub if I can't be VERY LOUD. Plus I have a nagging little cough that is driving me crazy. At least I have the free time to knit in my convalescence. From this free time that was both highly enjoyable and incredibly miserable, an abomination of crafting was born. Meet Angry Cat.

Pattern: Marmalade Ginge by Donna Wilson
Yarn: Morris Empire 4ply in orange and cream
Mods: None

Believe it or not, Angry Cat wasn't meant to look so angry. I think my miserableness subconsciously transferred to him during the crafting process. This little guy came out so serious looking! I meant for him to be cute, I swear it! This is for a swap, so I hope the person who eventually receives him appreciates his unique personality. I like him a lot. However, I have a nagging fear that my partner will unwrap him and exclaim that he's the ugliest cat she's ever seen. His expression was just too funny to rip out and start over. It's a work of art.

Let's talk about the construction on this project. The cat is knit in three pieces - the front, the back and then the tail. Everything has to be seamed up at the end. Of course, the whole thing is knitted in stockinette stitch, so all the pieces curl up like nobody's business. It was a challenge to put him together, to say the least. He's also striped from the bottom of his paws to the tips of his wonky ears, so neat finishing was a must. Stitching him up sloppily would be really obvious because the stripes wouldn't match on the sides. Look at that side seam though! I did him up right!

This pattern is from the Knitted Odd-Bod Bunch book. I like how he came out. It was a real challenge to put him together. That super-long tail that I thought was so cute (120 rows of stockinette knit flat and seamed) was a huge pain in the ass. It was worth it in the end though! I kind of wish I was keeping him.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kitty Toys and Crafty Earrings

Well, I finally figured out what to do for my Charms assignment. Try as I might, I just wasn't feeling this class when it was first posted. I had no idea when to make for it. I didn't want to make useless junk, and I wanted to somehow fit one of the swap items I'm working on into it. Luckily, the perfect projects came to me yesterday.

The assignment was based on the Reducio charm. We had to make something, then make a miniature version of it. Only a genius like me would come up with a cat toy/earrings combo for this (kidding . . . mostly).

First up, the cat toys.

Pattern: I made it up myself! I'm not patting myself on the back too hard though, it's just a crochet ball.
Yarn: Lily Sugar and Cream in Yellow and Hot Blue
Special Materials: These are stuffed with a healthy amount of cat nip.

I crocheted these out of small amounts of worsted weight cotton with a G hook. Yellow and blue are my favorite color combination and I'm really happy with how cheery these came out.

Of course, I have no idea if I put in too much cat nip or not enough. I think cats are completely adorable, but a life of hair all over everything and stinky litter boxes isn't for me. I figure that if I can smell it from outside the toy (which I certainly can), then a cat will be able to. I hope my partner enjoys these once I mail them. Well, more accurately, I hope her cats enjoy them.

Next, the earrings:

Pattern: Again, I made it up myself! It's almost exactly the same as the toys.
Yarn: JP Coats Crochet Thread in Golden Yellow

These came out really cute. I made the yellow beads using the same pattern as the toys, minus a set of increases and a body row (and the cap nip). I think that was a good call as they are verging on being too big.

I'm excited for these since I can actually wear them out regardless of how hot it is. Too many of the things I make are relegated to a drawer until winter comes.

So, my mission of fitting a swap item into this assignment is completed! Now I have to move on to completing herbology and getting started on arithmancy! I have too much on my plate this month. I'm sick too now. I've got some kind of cold that has me dried out and stuffed up. I'm hoping that it doesn't get any worse tomorrow. :(

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Flies

So, I haven't blogged about this particular topic yet, but I I think we're at a point where this bears reporting.

For the past month, my husband and I have been living in a fly-infested apartment. It was terrible. There were flies everywhere. Every time one of us would make food or get a drink we'd be slapping flies away from it. We'd try to make dinner and flies would be buzzing around our heads, driving us crazy. It was BAD. They were EVERYWHERE.

Obviously, we had a big problem. It goes without saying that our number one priority was getting rid of the flies. Our problem was that we could not figure out where they were coming from. We saw most of them in the kitchen area, which happens to be right around the corner from my bunny's cage. I keep Weatherby's cage very clean on a regular basis, but I started to clean it every single day just in case that's where the flies were breeding. I didn't think that the flies could be coming from him, because I never saw any flies or maggots in there, but I stepped up the cleaning just in case. It didn't make a real difference. That's not where the flies were coming from.

So then we moved onto the kitchen. We looked everywhere for the source of the flies. We thought that maybe a potato had rolled into a corner somewhere and rotted or something. But no, there was nothing unusual- and there was no rotting smell anywhere. We started taking our garbage out every single night just in case that's where the flies were spawning. This didn't make a difference either.

It was driving us absolutely crazy. We are not dirty people and we keep our apartment VERY clean! It just didn't make sense. There had to be a breeding area somewhere that we were just missing. We were on the point of calling our landlady to look into it when I found where the flies were coming from.

This is our new rice maker. My husband received it as a birthday present about a month ago. Curious coincidence, right? We use it all the time. I had noticed flies hanging out around it before, but I thought that they had just happened to land there, because flies can't possibly be breeding in the rice maker, right? WRONG.

On the back of the unit is a little plastic reservoir that catches excess water from the steam produced when rice cooks. As I was packing my husband's lunch last night, I happened to catch a glimpse of this plastic cover out of the corner of my eye. It was FULL of wriggling little maggots. I had no idea that this cover existed, that it was removable or that I was supposed to be cleaning it. It isn't mentioned in the instructions for the rice maker, which I read from cover to cover when we received it. It's on the back of the unit, so why would I ever think to look for it? When you clean the rice maker, you just remove the interior pot where the rice goes. You don't wash the base at all.

So I snapped off this cover (which came right off, because I'm apparently supposed to be cleaning this piece whenever I make rice), and got rid of the maggots. Now I am a little wiser about rice cooker maintenance and our fly problems are (hopefully) solved.

The real victim in this is poor little Weatherby, whom we all slandered by assuming that he was the cause of the flies. Sorry buddy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Till Death Do They Part Wreath

Well, I promised a wreath update, and here it is! This thing came out stupidly well.

This was made on a 12" wire wreath frame. This is the first time I've ever attempted a wreath and I wasn't sure how to attach all the pieces to the base. I didn't think that glue would be a very good idea, so I used yarn scraps to tie everything on. It's been holding together very well so far, but it isn't the studiest construction job I've ever done. It might be worth picking up a book on wreath design or searching for more information online.

I can definitely see myself making other wreaths for different holidays. I should get cracking on one for Thanksgiving next.

I have another project done for the House Cup, but it's part of a swap I'm in so I won't be posting it until my partner receives it. I have three more projects for the House Cup and my OWL to do in the rest of this month. I'm still struggling with the class assignments. I'm just not inspired. I don't think this is the fault of the teachers. Maybe it's me that's changed. Perhaps once this term is over it's time for me to take a break from this. I still have to think on it. I could just be in a midterm funk.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Some Halloween Crocheting

I was not as inspired by the House Cup projects this month as I usually am. They aren't bad assignments at all. It's just that none of them are jumping out at me. This has led me to be more creative in finding projects to apply to the different classes. I figured that I can combine DADA and Transfiguration this month to make a nifty Halloween wreath for my front door. I'm not double-dipping on projects, because that's against the rules. I'm making two separate projects, which I will turn in for the classes. Later, I will combine them to make an amazingly impressive decoration (I hope). See? Creative.

First up is Transfiguration. We had to transform something from real life into a yarn version. I crocheted some purple yarn roses.

Pattern: Centifolia Rose and Irish Leaf from 100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet
Yarn: Vanna's Choice in Eggplant and Caron Simply Soft in Dark Sage
Mods: I used worsted weight and a J hook for both patterns

The roses were very easy to crochet. You make a long strip of stitches and then roll it up, sewing it closed as you go. The rolling part took a little getting used to. By the second rose I had it pretty much down. They key is to keep the back of the rose completely flat and not concave or convex.

The leaves were a piece of cake. It only took one day to make all of them. The pattern was well written and it yielded a perfect leaf, just like I wanted. They look very nice up against the roses.

These are meant to go around the wreath. The middle of the wreath will showcase my next project - a skeleton bride and groom.

Pattern: Skeleton Bride and Groom by Needlenoodles
Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver in White and Vanna's Choice in Black.
Mods: I used 12 mm safety eyes instead of making the clay eyes that the pattern suggests

I am SO FREAKING HAPPY with these. That's right, my joy has transcended my ability to type in lowercase. This is the first pattern I have tried out of my Creepy Cute Crochet book. It was easy to follow and turned out such an adorable final project. I can definitely see myself making a lot more of the little guys from this book.

Let's talk about the bride first. The toughest part of the construction on her was definitely the tulle veil. I may be able to crochet with the greatest of ease, but a master seamstress I am not! I attached it once, decided it sucked, did it over and decided I could live with the look of the second try. It's not perfect, but it's good enough for a wreath where people won't be seeing her backside.

Now the groom. He was easy-peasy. The only tough thing I ran into with him was trying to crochet at a tight gauge with black yarn. I felt like I was going blind. In the instructions for attaching his hat, the book instructs you to "attach at a jaunty angle." What do you think, jaunty enough? That made me laugh.

My project for the rest of today is to assemble the wreath. I'll update when I have it finished. Once thing's for sure - it's going to kick ass.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Charity Knitting

Well, October is here. I've been hard at work on a number of projects for the different swaps and activities I'm in. I really shouldn't spread myself too thin, but if I'm not constantly busy I tend to get depressed thinking about my lack of a real job. Keeping ridiculously busy with fun things works for me.

One project I wrapped up early this month was my charity knitting for Quidditch. Quidditch is really different this year. Instead of decorating ourselves with wrist warmers we are making projects for different charities. I chose to contribute to a charity collecting preemie caps. My goal was to do three.

Pattern: Preemie Hats for Charity by Carissa Browning
Yarn: Bernat Softee Baby Solids and Marls
Mods: None

This pattern was really great because it has a lot of variations on a simple hat. I made three different versions, because variety keeps me from getting bored.

I have to admit that I wasn't initially thrilled with how Quidditch was set up this term. I was of the general opinion that money would be more valuable to a charity than hand-knitted items. After knitting these hats I understand charity crafting more now. Money is undoubtedly a more utilitarian donation to make, but it lacks the soul that knitting items yourself provides.

Someone is going to choose a hat that I made with my own hands and place it on their baby's head. They will know that somewhere out there, someone took their own time and yarn to make an item to warm their child. I think the knowledge that there are caring people in the world provides a kind of comfort that store-bought items never could.

In any case, I'm glad I gave charity knitting a try. I will definitely donate something again, if I find the right cause.